All too often, PR is an afterthought, but that’s a huge missed opportunity. To see remarkable results from your PR strategy, you need to make it one of the cornerstones of your marketing plan.
Here are five tips on how to make your PR strategy more effective:
1. Think beyond traditional techniques
PR has come a long way from the old days of sending out press releases—now you need to be thinking digitally, socially and out of the box. There are so many channels to utilize, including microsites, podcasts, social media, using influencers, blogging and countless others.
For maximum impact, apply an integrated approach across all these channels, and be sure to include SEO in your strategy. The best way to achieve impressive keyword rankings and feature prominently in Google searches is for relevant third parties to link to your website, so give them a reason to link to you.
2. Research always wins
Although research comes at a cost, it often pays off in sources for stories. If you’re promoting your product or solution, it is vital to act as a thought leader in your industry and conducting research is a fantastic way to do this.
The statistics that research produces are a solid foundation for all sorts of B2B and B2C PR efforts. You can use them for anything from forming the basis of a press release to informing new thought leadership articles and blogs.
Beyond using the insights directly in media releases, the data can also spark ideas for more creative PR approaches. If you’re struggling to find the budget for research, a cost-effective alternative is to use requests under the Freedom of Information Act to get data for free.
3. Don’t underestimate the power of events
One of the highest ROI uses for your PR budget is running a media event for multiple journalists, like a roundtable or press conference. There’s no better way to ensure that the relevant journalists hear about your latest news. Hearing it first-hand increases your chances of coverage significantly.
Of course, you need to make sure you have something worth sharing. The announcement of a new product or a significant change in the company’s strategy or vision are usually event-worthy developments—unless you’re a start-up.
It’s difficult for journalists to get time out of the office, so try to keep your event concise. An optional networking or drinks reception followed by a presentation and lunch usually works best for roundtable type events. If you’re taking the press on a trip, day trips or one-night overnight stays tend to be the most popular formats.
Remember that journalists are only human, so will need a break—be sure to include at least one coffee break. It helps people stay focused on what your spokespeople are saying and allows you to speak with journalists in a less formal setting.
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4. Make sure your spokespeople are media trained
Your spokespeople might be super intelligent, incredibly on the ball, and even all-knowing but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will know how to talk to the press. Investing in media training for key spokespeople makes your PR efforts go further. It ensures that your spokesperson makes the most of the journalist’s time and conveys your key messages clearly.
Media training can also prevent potential crises. For instance, reinforcing that nothing is off the record when speaking to the press can prevent costly slip-ups. Media training also prepares your spokespeople to face tough questions and tricky situations. A little media training can be the difference between a flustered spokesperson and a composed one who is on-message no matter what.
5. Build effective relationships with journalists
Being transparent and building mutual understanding with journalists also pays dividends. Take the time to learn about them, their focus, and their previous writing. In turn, make sure that they understand what your company can offer them, what you can speak authoritatively on, and how else you can be of help to them.
Offer to take key journalists out for lunch and get to know them as people. Take the opportunity to ask them what challenges they face in their role and find out what they enjoy writing about. That way, if you’re trying to get a story out there, your name will stand out among the deluge of emails they’re dealing with that day, and you’re one step closer to getting published.
Get started now
Integrating PR as a fundamental part of your business plan can have a massive impact on your bottom line. However, it’s a long-term investment, and the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll see results. These five points should set you in the right direction to make your PR strategy more productive and increase your ROI.
Heather Baker is CEO at TopLine Comms and TopLine Film.